PHILADELPHIA: The Delaware Valley Healthcare Council (DVHC) has turned to PR following the declaration of bankruptcy by the Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation (AHERF), hiring Hill & Knowlton to safeguard the perception of its area hospitals.
PHILADELPHIA: The Delaware Valley Healthcare Council (DVHC) has
turned to PR following the declaration of bankruptcy by the Allegheny
Health Education and Research Foundation (AHERF), hiring Hill & Knowlton
to safeguard the perception of its area hospitals.
The DVHC, a trade association representing 150 hospitals and other
healthcare organizations, has been left reeling by AHERF’s bankruptcy -
’the largest non-profit healthcare system failure in history’ according
to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. A barrage of news reports
detailing the difficulties suffered by patients and employees who were
part of the system immediately followed the bankruptcy announcement,
which, in turn, led to other stories about fraud and abuse in the
healthcare system as a whole.
’In the public’s eye, it was not just Allegheny,’ said H&K VP of public
information and government relations, Len Karp. ’By extension, people
viewed the entire healthcare community as responsible.’ The DVHC’s board
took a proactive approach, immediately turning to PR to regain the
Karp emphasized that PR alone cannot undo all the damage. ’It’s not
going to make a difference unless there is a total commitment to
lessening the gap between how we perceive ourselves and how the public
H&K’s goal is to make hospitals more ’user-friendly’ through seemingly
insignificant changes, such as improving the signs in hospitals.
Similarly, a self-assessment tool has been provided to the group’s
member organizations, allowing them to view the shortfalls in their
current service to the public.
Karp also hopes to make the DVHC’s hospitals more aware of the
importance of boosting employee morale. Too many patients feel that they
lack an advocate in hospitals, he noted.
Other possible plans include a DVHC-sponsored health information
database on the Web; holding monthly news conferences; and using
employees as public ’ambassadors’ for their hospital or organization.